Artist: Laura Mechling
Medium/Style: Pen & Ink, Simple Lines, Black on White, mixed media and collage work
Not everyone is an artist, or so it is that many people believe. True art, not only lies in the beholder, but is also a direct manifestation of each person’s authentic self. What we, as humans, can keep emotionally hidden will often cry out through detailed etchings and the brush strokes of time. Our painful truth and resolve come to life through art in recovery.
Why Laura Mechling
This is a featured interview on artist Laura Mechling. Although she is not in recovery her works are inspired by those close to her, friends and family who fight the disease of addiction every day. Mechling is a voice for many aspiring artists yet to be discovered, until they find themselves doing art in rehab. One of the many benefits of artistic expression during addiction treatment is the reconnection with the subconscious self.
Pushing Beyond Fear during Art Therapy
“I would tell someone not to be intimidated to try something new,” Mechling mused during our interview. “I think people are scared of the unknown because we never know the outcome of taking risks. Testing out a new form of expression might allow room for growth and a sense of awareness of themselves and others,” she continued.
She also draws a correlation between creating art in rehab and the recovery process as a whole. Mechling explained, “Many people would rather stay in their comfort zone of living in old habits, however, allowing themselves the time to work through the process, there comes the opportunity for awareness on the other side.”
Greater awareness is one of the many aspects that can be both alarming and restorative to a person in recovery. In fact, it’s one of the essential life skills that support healthier decision-making during sober living.
Inspiring Imagery Creates Healing in Others
Using visualization is a key component of the practice of mindfulness, a valued resource for those seeking ongoing and consistent refuge from the negativity that permeates the world. Mechling delivers visualization of thought in the places she’s been, the people she’s spoken with, and the moments that defy logic. To her, there’s beauty in them all.
Her mind’s eye is shared through articulate expressions through pen and ink, simple lines, black on white, mixed media and collage work.
“Where the spirit does not work with the hand, there is no art.” Henri Matisse
Although art is meant to be seen and savored, for the artist it is merely an outpouring of either emotional release or thoughts channeled from a source unknown. Artists, like other creatives such as writers and musicians, can attest to their work as coming from divine intervention or another world.
Mechling reflected back on her earliest memories as an aspiring artist, and cites a special person near and dear to her as being a source of inspiration and support. “My mother was an art teacher and she would have mixed media available and allow me and my siblings to experiment at the kitchen table. But art really hit me in high school. I used all my free time to be in the art rooms.”
Drawing from Personal Experiences Is Artful
In order to get real with your art, you have to get to a place where “freedom of expression” comes from the soul, not your intellect. Mechling provides some of her favorite aspects of being in that sacred space of creating.
“Art has always been an escape for me. I love the idea of creating something out of nothing.”
When asked about a particular time in her life, when intention and focal points of her work had shifted, Mechling’s excitement was hard to contain. “I would say that my passion for art became strongest within the past seven years or so. I started looking at the world in a new light.”
This new light that Mechling mentioned is something that artists in recovery describe often as the metamorphosis of their healing.
Benefits of Artistic Expression during Addiction Treatment
Although Mechling is not a person in recovery, her message to those who are is resounding and parallels many of the reasons why more and more addiction treatment programs offer art therapy as a method for greater healing.
Once a person begins the recovery process, it can be likened to starting life over. It takes time, patience, and perseverance to remove old, self-destructive habits and replace them with newer, healthier ones.
Discovering how life feels again can be frightening and invigorating all at the same time. As emotions sway from one end of the spectrum to another, having the ability to find balance and inner peace is important. Art in recovery helps people find that balance while cultivating personal tranquility.
The Eight Ways to Reclaim Your Life through Art Therapy
In addition to the personal enjoyment that one gets by using charcoal, ink, watercolors or oil paint, clay, metal or other materials for the creation of art, the breadth of wellness it brings is astounding.
Art in Recovery provides:
- Emotional healing
- Personal breakthroughs
- Visual communication
- Positive outlet
- Relapse prevention
Using art to understand human emotion has been in practice for decades. Many years ago, psychologists and psychiatrists used art therapy in patients who were too young to verbally express their feelings. Known as incident drawing, children could draw pictures that would tell their story of trauma inflicted on them or someone close to them.
For the treatment of substance addiction, art therapy has a similar process from program to program and from person to person. It is in the details of the individual experience that decrees the differences.
Mechling Talks about Her Recent Change in Process
How inspiration comes is often hard to explain in words, though Mechling had no trouble revealing how it comes to be for her.
“I would have experiences and get a desire to recreate a moment on paper or draw a character from an interaction I had earlier that day. I can look at nature and take the pictures in my mind home with me and draw the memories in my own style.” She added, “I am fascinated with the ways children interact with the world around them. I am always thinking of ways I can draw the cycles of life and nature.”
Her strong connection with the human experience blossomed, redirecting her talent to Mother Earth. “This summer I have actually had a shift in my message that I want to convey as an artist,” she recalled attending two retreats, one in the mountains of Colorado and the other in Louisiana. “I now have a desire to create more authentic work that shows the beauty in nature as well as religious-inspired artwork. I feel that I am somewhat going back to the innocence of my childhood roots.”
Get Up Close to Mechling Works of Art at the ECHO Recovery Art Show
To further showcase the importance of art therapy, ECHO Recovery is proud to continue this Art in Recovery blog series, featuring aspiring artists who found inspiration and recovery through art or who are inspired by those in recovery.
You too can support our featured artists and others by joining us for the first annual ECHO Recovery Art Show and Open Mic Night this November at the Bel Air Armory. There you’ll find a wide array of artwork to admire and purchase.
If you’re musically inclined, here’s your chance to participate in the Open Mic and share your singing, instrumentals, or poetry in motion. Just an art and music admirer? Attend and help make a difference to the addiction recovery community.
Event Date and Time: Sat, November 23, 2019 at 4:00 PM – 8:00 PM EDT
Location: Bel Air Armory 37 North Main Street Bel Air, MD 21014
Artists Sign Up: Register to display and sell your work. 30 spaces available $35 Fee for about 10×10 space* *tables for displays available upon request
Musicians Open Mic Sign Up: Day of Event Short run time performances only
Tickets: $5 Donation**, children under 10 years old are FREE **Proceeds will be going to ECHO Recovery for 1st week sober living scholarships.
There will also be snacks, drinks available for sale. Your ticket helps Bel Air’s local Artists and the Recovery Community